Sir Charles Villiers Stanford - Encyclopedia




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SIR CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD (1852-), Irish musical composer, was born in Dublin on the 30th of September 1852, being the only son of Mr John Stanford, examiner in the court of chancery (Dublin) and clerk of the Crown, Co. Meath. Both parents of the composer were accomplished amateur musicians, the father being the possessor Of a splendid bass voice, and the mother a very clever pianist. Under R. M. Levey (violin), Miss Meeke, Mrs Joseph Robinson, Miss Flynn and Michael Quarry (piano), young Stanford's musical powers were trained in the early days; and Sir Robert Stewart taught him composition and organ. Various feats of precocity are recorded in an article in the Musical Times for December 1898. He carne to London as a pupil of Arthur O'Leary and Ernst Pauer in 1862, and in 1870 won a scholarship at Queen's College, Cambridge, whence he migrated to Trinity College in 1873, and succeeded J. L. Hopkins as college organist, a post he held till 1892. His appointment as conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society gave him great opportunities, and the fame which the society soon obtained was in the main due to Stanford's energies. Before his time ladies were not admitted into the chorus, but during his tenure of the office of conductor many most interesting performances and revivals took place. In the years 1874 to 1877 he was given leave of absence for a portion of each year in order to complete his studies in Germany, where he learnt from Reinecke and Kiel. He took the B.A. degree in 1874 and M.A. in 1878, and was given the honorary degree of Mus. D., at Oxford in 1883, and at Cambridge in 1888. He first came prominently before the public as a composer with his incidental music to Tennyson's Queen Mary (Lyceum, 1876);,1876);, and in 1881 his first opera, The Veiled Prophet, was given at Hanover (revived at Covent Garden, 1893); this was succeeded by Savonarola (Hamburg, April, and Covent Garden, July 1884), and The Canterbury Pilgrims (Drury Lane, 1884). A long interval separates these from his later operas, Shamus O'Brien, a delightful piece of Irish dramatic writing (Opera Comique, 1896) and Much Ado About Nothing (Covent Garden, 1901). For the; main provincial festivals, works by Stanford were commissioned as follows; "Orchestral serenade" (Birmingham, 1882); "Elegiac Ode" (Norwich, 1884); (Birming- ham, 1885);1885); The Revenge (Leeds, 1886); The Voyage of Maeldune (Leeds, 1889); The Battle of the Baltic (Hereford, 1891); Eden (Birmingham, 1891); The Bard (Cardiff, 1895); Phaudrig Crohoore (Norwich, 1896); Requiem (Birmingham, 1897); (Leeds, 1898); The Last Post (Hereford, 1900); Stabat Mater (Leeds, Ig07). Besides these, his music includes a few choral works of importance, such as The Resurrection (Cambridge, 1875); Psalm Xlvi. (Cambridge, 1877); Carmen Saeculare (Jubilee Ode, 1887); "Installation Ode" (Cambridge, 1892); East to West (London, 1893); Psalm CL. (Manchester, 1887); Mass G (Brompton Oratory, 1893). He was appointed professor of composition at the Royal College of Music, 1883; conductor of the Bach choir in 1885; professor of music in the university of Cambridge, succeeding Sir G. A. Macfarren, 1887; conductor of the Leeds Philharmonic Society, 1897, and of the Leeds Festival from 1901 onwards. He was knighted in 1902. His instrumental works include six symphonies, many chamber compositions, among them two string quartets; besides many songs, part-songs, madrigals, &c., and incidental music to the Eumenides and Oedipus Rex (as performed at Cambridge), as well as to Tennyson's Becket. His church music holds an honoured place among modern Anglican compositions; and his editions of Irish and other traditional songs are well known. In 1908 he published an interesting volume of Studies and Memories, a collection of contributions to reviews, &c., in past years.

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